Poshgirl

Well-Known Member
Aug 2, 2021
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Birmingham
A fine cricketer.

I remember many more from his era. John Edrich, Brian Close, Colin Cowdrey, Fred Truman. Not the intensive playing schedule that we now have so these guys played into their 40s, if my memory serves me correctly. Who can forget John Arlott's soothing tones?

There's also those who passed too early, Colin Milburn a fine cricketer but would he have fitted into today's set up? Remember him breaking the sight screen at Edgbaston in a Sunday League match!
 

TheLocalYokel

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Jan 14, 2009
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'Lord Ted' was one of the cricketing stars of my youth, an aggressive batsman and a more than useful quickish medium pace bowler. There was something of the buccaneer about his approach to the game.

When John Arlott who had been a Hampshire policeman for 12 years tried to become a broadcaster, initially in the poetry section of the BBC in the immediate post WW2 era, one of the senior establishment figures who ruled the Corporation at the time where snobbery was rife said that Arlott had an ugly voice but an interesting mind.

Well, to most people his voice was the thing they loved and remembered about Arlott, and his gift for poetry often surfaced in the choice of words during cricket commentaries. He wrote books on cricket of course but also on such diverse subjects as wine and poetry. In the winter months he would sometimes report on football as well.

I've listened to Test Match Special almost since its inception over 60 years ago. For many years the commentators, all gifted in their own idiosyncratic way, and indeed the expert summarisers who were all former test players, painted word pictures enhanced by the experts that were invariably a delight to listen to. Nowadays with one or two exceptions I find the TMS commentators bland, lacking in personality and not possessed of the gift of description.

Returning to Arlott, who can ever forget his description of the antics of the first streaker seen at a Lords test match? He called the man a 'freaker' - the term streaker was then new to the UK - and I've never been sure if it was deliberate or whether he was genuinely not certain of this new word when applied to those with a need to take off their clothes in public.
 

Poshgirl

Well-Known Member
Aug 2, 2021
234
63
Birmingham
John Arlott lived in Alderney. One of his visitors was Ian Botham who partook of his wine cellar!

I agree, today's commentators are bland but isn't that to do with the general "dumbing down". Michael Vaughan poor. Carlos Brathwaite very good when introducing the Shipping Forecast. Various former Indian players also make worthwhile contributions. Alison Mitchell is very knowledgeable, same goes for Ebony Rainford-Brent. Some may not agree but I miss Geoffrey Boycott. His bluntness getting up some people's noses but knows his subject.

Wasn't it something that started after Ray Stevens' song "The Streak". Maybe just a coincidence. It could have been his own take.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Jan 14, 2009
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John Arlott lived in Alderney. One of his visitors was Ian Botham who partook of his wine cellar!

I agree, today's commentators are bland but isn't that to do with the general "dumbing down". Michael Vaughan poor. Carlos Brathwaite very good when introducing the Shipping Forecast. Various former Indian players also make worthwhile contributions. Alison Mitchell is very knowledgeable, same goes for Ebony Rainford-Brent. Some may not agree but I miss Geoffrey Boycott. His bluntness getting up some people's noses but knows his subject.

Wasn't it something that started after Ray Stevens' song "The Streak". Maybe just a coincidence. It could have been his own take.
For me the best tv commentator of them all was Richie Benaud. He was so astute and spoke with the the background of captaining Australia. He was also a trained journalist and tv presenter. Many times he would say, "Just let's have a look at that again". He had spotted something 'live' that was difficult to see even in a slow motion replay, such was his knowledge and feel for the game.

From its inception Test Match Special has followed a policy of having a commentator and expert alongside. In the early days the commentators were the likes of John Arlott, Rex Alston and Robert Hudson with Norman Yardley one of the experts.

Perhaps the heyday of TMS was the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when legendary commentators in the form of Arlott, Brian Johnston, Don Mosey, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Henry Blofeld held centre stage supported by experts in the form of Fred Truman and Trevor Bailey and, as now (at least pre-pandemic), they were joined by an overseas commentator from the the visiting test team's country with the immensely knowledgeable Tony Cozier (West Indies) and the grumpy Alan McGilvray (Australia) perhaps two of the best remembered.

The expert, always a former test player, was there to give an insight from the players' perspective having experienced the game at that level at first hand. Some were better at communicating than others. Nowadays the rationale has undergone a subtle change with Rainsford-Brent and Isa Guha sometimes filling in the role as expert. Obviously they can't speak from first-hand knowledge about facing 95 mph bowling or what it's like trying to stop a Stokes cover drive because they would not have encountered such things in their test cricket. That said Guha (especially) is a good communicator and both women know their way around cricket as does commentator Alison Mitchell.

A couple of the current bog standard TMS male commentators - I don't even know their names - have no personality, poor descriptive skills and are not likely to entice non-cricketing people to take an interest in the game, which wasn't the case in the days of Arlott and Johnston. In those days it was said that listening to TMS was like going to a cricket match with a group of friends. The commentators and experts would take the mickey out of each other, which they have to be careful about doing these days, and generally put across their great enthusiasm. These days everything is so packaged and sterile.
 

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